Danger Lurks in Odd Places

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs TX Broker 0513551

I was out showing one of my short sale listings in Little Elm, Texas this evening. After showing the property, I did my usual walk-around to check on the property. As I looked at the front of the house, my eyes drifted to the roof of the neighboring property. It took me a few minutes to digest what I was seeing. It appeared that the chimney flue for the gas hot water heater was missing!

Missing Chimney Flue

It had either been removed or had dropped into the attic. Either way it is a highly dangerous situation. Gas furnaces and hot water heaters produce carbon monoxide (among other things) and the flue usually vents the exhaust gases into the air outside of the home. In this case the gases were being vented into the attic of the home.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. At lower levels of exposure, CO causes mild effects that are often mistaken for the flu. These symptoms include headaches, dizziness, disorientation, nausea and fatigue. The effects of CO exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure.”

I attempted to contact the homeowner but nobody was home. I wound up leaving a handwritten note on the front door letting them know about the danger.

It’s a good idea to inspect the outside of your home on a frequent basis. You can often find problems in their early stages. I usually look for termite tubes and fire ant mounds around the foundation line. I also check out the roof for missing or damaged shingles. I’ve added missing flues to my checklist.

Tom Branch, Broker, CDPE, SFR

Photo ©2011 - Imaged2Sell

Source: http://www.thebranchteam.com/wordpress/2011/03/17/danger-lurks-in-odd-places/

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Tom Branch and Gina Branch, The Branch Team with RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs, service the greater North Dallas suburbs including Dallas, Plano, Allen, McKinney, Frisco, Lewisville, and Carrollton.  While Gina concentrates on traditional listings and buyer/tenant representation, Tom specializes in assisting distressed homeowners to avoid foreclosure.  Tom and Gina have published two books (Achieving Rock Star Status and The Field Guide to Short Sales) and are available for speaking engagements in the greater Dallas - Fort Worth Metroplex. Subscribe to The Branch Team Blog.

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Show All Comments
Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
Gibson Management Group, Ltd. - Charlottesville, VA

I have the gutters on my properties cleaned annually * my repairman checks vent boots, stacks and shingles since he is ALREADY on the roof....good call!

Mar 16, 2011 11:56 PM #1
Carrie Trotter
National Property Inspections - Dayton, OH
Home Inspector

Wow that could be very dangerous. Good thing you took a look and were knowledgeable enough to know what was going on. I'm sure the homeowners were very appreciative!

Mar 16, 2011 11:58 PM #2
Steve Loynd
Alpine Lakes Real Estate Inc., - Lincoln, NH
800-926-5653, White Mountains NH

Tom, It's hard to tell what that opening is, Could it be a plumbing vent pipe? Either way, a knock on the neighbors door was a safe bet.

Mar 17, 2011 12:10 AM #3
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Good find for being at the neighbors home. Tell them and let them take the appropriate action.

Clint McKie

Mar 17, 2011 12:14 AM #4
Tom Branch
RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs - Plano, TX
Broker, CDPE, SFR, ACRE, Plano TX Ambassador


It's for the hot water heater in the garage below.


Mar 17, 2011 12:27 AM #5
Judy Jennings
The Green Company - Ashland, MA
Broker - The Lanterns at Warren Woods - Ashland MA

Tom - Great observation. You most likely save a life as a result.

Mar 17, 2011 12:56 AM #6
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

so, isn't it still venting over the roof, but instead of 8 inches above the roof, it's now venting 2 inches above the roof?

Mar 17, 2011 01:27 AM #7
Tom Branch
RE/MAX Dallas Suburbs - Plano, TX
Broker, CDPE, SFR, ACRE, Plano TX Ambassador


What you see is the flashing, the flue is missing. It was either removed or fell into the attic. Basically, the hot water heater is likely venting into the attic or the garage.


Mar 17, 2011 01:39 AM #8
Loreena and Michael Yeo
3:16 team REALTY ~ Locally-owned Prosper TX Real Estate Co. - Prosper, TX
Real Estate Agents

You're right. It's so right on. I'm convinced that back in my college days, I owned a car that had eventually led out carbon monoxide. But back when you are 20 and immortal, you only think about where your next dollar is coming from. When it did, you were too busy figuring out where you were going to spend it in. Carbon monoxide? Nah - I'll pass.

Mar 17, 2011 01:54 AM #9
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton)

Tom, That's one you don't see every day, and like you pointed out, a high risk that needs fixed ASAP.

Mar 17, 2011 02:00 AM #10
Alan May
Jameson Sotheby's International Realty - Evanston, IL
Helping you find your way home.

Ahhh... now I see it... that makes sense, thanks for the clarification.

Mar 17, 2011 02:36 AM #11
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